Be Close – Bonding
Children who feel close to their parents are less likely to drink or use drugs. There are several benefits to having a close relationship with your children. One of which is trust. As a parent, spend time on becoming the type of person your child can trust. With that trust, you’ll be able to teach and help your child grow.
Do fun activities together on a regular basis and hold regular family meetings. Give your child opportunities to plan activities and be in charge of family meetings. This not only helps build and develop important skills, but also shows that you trust and respect your child’s ideas and imagination.
Eat dinner together. This can be really difficult with busy schedules, but it is very beneficial to take time to eat together. Research shows that kids that eat dinner with their family at least five times a week are 33% less likely to use alcohol.
Set and Review Rules
Kids need and thrive on rules. Boundaries are a very important part of child and adolescent development. As a family, set rules about not using any alcohol or drugs.
Be specific: Set rules for no tobacco use, no alcohol use, and no drug use of any kind.
Be firm with the rules and work together to develop realistic consequences for breaking those rules.
Review and repeat the rules that you’ve set as a family. Do it as often as you can. Post rules on the fridge, or by your front door.
Monitor Your Child
Know where your child is, where your child is going, who your child is with and what they are doing. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, and it’s ok to ask them to check in with you at prescribed times. If they miss a check in, use that as an opportunity to talk with them about their safety and your responsibility as a parent. You can segway your conversation into not using drugs and alcohol. Say “You know I ask you to check in with me because I want to make sure you are having a fun time and that you are safe.”
Know who your child’s friends are, and whenever possible, get to know the parents of the friends your child hangs out with. Watch out for sudden or dramatic changes in friends.
Start a conversation with you child about drugs and alcohol
Beginning a conversation about drugs and alcohol can be scary for parents. Try using things that your child is interested in as a starting point. Take music for example. A lot of today’s music references drug or alcohol use, or outright glamorizes dangerous or excessive use. Instead of banning your child from listening to such music (which may or may not be effective), use these songs as tools to gauge your child’s acceptance of drug use. Ask to listen to some of their favorite songs. Then ask questions like “How do the words in the song make you feel?” or “Why do you think this song talks about drugs?”. Then ask “Do you remember the rules that we’ve set as a family about drugs and alcohol?” This can be a great time to review the rules that you set, or set new rules. Remember, a conversation is a two way street. Don’t get upset or raise your voice and try to avoid doing or saying things that will cause your child to shut down and be defensive. The goal is to talk open and honestly, and let your child do the same.
For more tips on starting a conversation click here http://www.timetotalk.org/ParentTalkKit/
Did you know that weekdays between the hours of 3pm-6pm is when kids are most likely to use drugs or alcohol or experiment for the first time? This is because parents are often away or at work, and youth may be left unsupervised with nothing to do. That can be a dangerous combination. So, it’s important that your child gets involved in something positive during unsupervised time. Sports, music, dance, art, public library programs, afterschool programs are all great things to get your child involved with.
For information on programs at the SSL PAL Pete Suazo Center click here http://www.sslpal.org
Social Networking Sites
Teens share and get a lot of information from sites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. If your child has an account on any of these sites, so should you. Request them to be your friend, or follow them. If they hesitate, you can use that as another opportunity for a conversation and to review the rules that you have set as a family.
Remember, once your child is a friend or is following you, they can see what you post. This can be helpful to making sure you are always a on your toes and are setting a good example for your child.
Kids use text messaging perhaps more than actual conversations. So, if you find it hard to find face time, you could use texting as another way for you to talk with them. Text your kids short messages to tell them that you are thinking about them, you are proud of them, or just love them. You can also send messages reminding them of the rules you set on not using drugs or alcohol.
You can also send your child a prewritten text from parentsempowered.org just click here (http://parentsempowered.org/text-your-child)